I have a vague memory of my older cousin having to read this for school, and she told me it was about burning books. I was shocked, and it might be one of the reasons I never read it until now. Another might be that it wasn’t required reading in my school. During high school, I was an avid reader but usually hated the stuff they recommended, and even if I liked it, reading for a test just isn’t the same as reading for pleasure.
I found out that there was a new 50th anniversary of this book, and it was published with a new cover, which I thought was gorgeous. I wanted to buy a physical copy since I thought there was something less poetic about reading a book about burning books on my Kindle.
However, since I live in Japan, it was hard to track down a physical copy in a store. I finally found this tiny paperback with the cover above in my local Kinokuniya. This cover isn’t as pretty as the 50th anniversary one, but I wanted to read the book during my trip to Osaka since it’s small. The font size in my copy is tiny, though, so there was enough story in there for me to read during down time in the airport and in the hotel.
The story is about a fireman who burns the insides of houses. Not just any houses. Houses of people who are caught owning books. Guy Montag is one such fireman, and he goes along his merry way, always smiling, doing the same thing every day. Until he meets a girl who asks him a million questions and makes him start to question, too.
I really loved everything about this book. It was published in 1953 but Ray Bradbury was very insightful and nailed modern society on the head. I usually don’t like science fiction and lately dystopian novels have caused me more pain than joy, but this book smashed it out of the park. Bradbury’s creativity shines through and his descriptions of the technology and its juxtaposition with nature and art is brilliant.
There are basically two types of characters: the enlightened and the brainwashed. One of his characters teeters between the two and it makes for a more interesting vision into their society and the danger it poses. I really loved Guy’s progression through the book. It was very smooth and this was a fast read. I was enveloped in the flames from the very first line and the whole ride was thought provoking.
I am really sad this wasn’t required at my school because if it were, I might have read it sooner. However, I’m really glad I read it now because at this time in my life, I can appreciate literary satire and all the things at work in this book. If I had read it sooner, I might not have loved it as much as I do. If you haven’t read this book, go get it now!